In an exclusive interview with Image Management, Rahat Beri (COO, Percept Profile) speaks about the challenge of talent in the industry, how the industry needs to balance competition with collaboration, and what Percept Profile brings to the table.
Q. What, according to you, is the single biggest challenge facing the Indian PR industry? What could be done to overcome it?
Talent crunch is the single biggest challenge facing the Indian PR industry, talent entering the industry both in terms of quality and the quantity is an issue. To overcome this challenge, I think, there is dire need of investment in developing the talent in the profession. In addition, to meet the needs of changing face of the profession, there is need of training people on the job as well. Also, very important, if more Indian education institutes offers relevant, specialized courses for Public Relations & communication, then it will equip new talent better to meet the job challenges. Beside this, PR industry’s growth story, power and career opportunities need to be advocated aggressively to recruit and retain top talent in the industry. This will certainly help drive up compensation and investment back to the discipline. I also sense, it is vital to standardize salary ranges for various functions in the industry.
Q. Do you see high attrition rates are a big problem for PR firms? Why?
Yes, there is high attrition in PR industry, and for the obvious reason – the talent crunch challenge in PR industry. As short term solution to meet the manpower needs of the firm, many PR firms do poach talent available in the industry.
Q. Do you feel CEOs put enough emphasis on communications? Is it still treated as a support function or increasingly growing to be a boardroom function?
Definitely, there is larger recognition and acceptance of PR & communication at the top level in Indian corporate sector these days. Technology has transformed the way public relations works now. Social media is redefining the PR tools, giving this huge opportunity to professionals to truly interact not just with press but public at large. More companies are investing in PR, as social media is in sync with any communication in India and globally as well. In present day, PR has become broader, strategic and integral to the overall marketing communication of the companies. PR has moved beyond media relations to digital communications, continuous flow of information, advocacy and image management.
Q. Would you say freshers entering the industry are adequately trained in the practical/theoretical knowledge of communications?
Compared to a decade ago, yes , freshers entering the industry are trained better in practical & theoretical knowledge of communication. Most of them are well aware and in control of using new media tools. But today, the public relations ecosystem is continuing to evolve so quickly, and PR pros not only have to manage media (an important influencer) but entire ecosystem of influencers. And this practical training you get only when you are on the job.
Q. Can the Indian PR industry strike a balance between competitiveness and collaboration? Is a culture of poaching and mistrust harming the industry’s growth?
Certainly, I am hopeful of Indian PR industry striking balance between competitiveness and collaboration. I already see some collaboration and learning happening in industry through few forums. Culture of poaching and mistrust has done no good to anybody. Obviously, it is harming the industry growth to some extent.
Q. Where do you think the Indian PR industry stands today in the international arena?
Worldwide PR industry and PR profession has changed the most in the past 10 years. And Indian PR industry has been part of the same. PR is a real-time business today. Indian PR industry is growing today and will continue to grow faster and more when compared to western world. The capacity of Indian PR industry is beginning to unleash, as India and China will be growth driver countries in Asia for advertising and public relations.
Q. How do you think Percept Profile sets itself apart from the other PR firms in the country?
Percept Profile, a division of Percept Limited, is a marketing communication Consultancy, that offers an integrated marketing communications services and develops strategic PR communication programs which are effective, relevant and compelling to influence stakeholders. We take a 360-degree view of the business to build powerful and distinct communications programs that resonate with the stakeholders who are critical to the success.
We bring to the table, more strategic, theoretical, consultative approach and strong understanding of India’s socio-economic-politico culture along with the understanding & experience of working with the Indian media. We have successfully been in the business of PR & communication for nearly two decades now. We have showcased our knowledge, proficiency and commitment in branding and marketing different brands across various sectors.
We continue to grow and invest in building newer skills such as Social Media, Research & Consultancy and Corporate social Responsibility. We focus on building, motivating and retaining top talent. We also provide job training, maintain supportive, creative, informal, transparent and competitive work environment.